Tape Loop

Tape Loop’s (a.k.a. Marcus Amaker) latest album, {Escapism, features impeccable mixing, heady beats, and, as one would expect from an album of poetry, deeply moving words. The album stands as a bridge between musical and spoken-word performance, running 22 tracks into a continuous stream of sound. Out of the bass riffs, Amaker’s voice emerges, crying “I sit naked in the sea of ink stains,” followed by clips from a San Quentin prisoner or World War II public broadcasts blended with the words of today’s warmongers. Tracks like “purple heart,” “(birthmarks),” and “rites of passage” are Amaker’s poetic responses to loss, love, and revenge. In “terrorism” he cries, “They will use you to rush war’s fears down our throat. It’s a hard pill to swallow.” The title track asks in the form of a conversation, “Are you a dreamer? Whatever you do, don’t be bored. This is absolutely the most exciting time we could possibly be alive.” With {Escapism, Amaker has dreamt up an intriguing blend of music and words, an Allegra pill for poetry allergies. –Stratton Lawrence



Rose Garden & a .45


Since relocating to Charleston from Indiana last year, Bell (a.k.a. “bell.”) guitarist Tyler Mechem and pianist Joe Giant have built a solid following among the college crowd and downtown bargoers with their smooth-groovin’, blue-eyed soul and rock grooves. With the addition of drummer William Pitonyak, a fully-realized pop-rock band sound emerged. With the recent release of this five-song EP (cleanly recorded with Indiana engineer Chris Liepe, cheaply released on econo discs with a white, cardstock sleeve and blurry band photo), they demonstrate their chops and ideas. There’s the four-chord simplicity of the heartfelt opener, “Jesus in my Pocket” (resembling one of Panic’s well-behaved “pop” tunes of late). There’s rollicking piano and melodic grandeur of “Forgiveness.” There’s the nasty funk and clever dynamics of the electric piano-driven “‘Neath the Weeping Willow.” All solid stuff that points toward an even more together full-length debut. –T. Ballard Lesemann